Ground Surveys

National Waterbird Survey – Ground Surveys

The National Survey of Waterbirds is including some ground surveys, at selected locations, to complement and support the aerial survey program. The ground surveys will fill some gaps in coverage, such as urban areas where airspace may be restricted, and provide calibration between aerial and ground data for certain wetlands. They will also provide sample data on species – such as small sized and secretive waterbirds – that are not visible, or that are difficult to identify or count, in aerial surveys.

Monday, 20th to Friday, 24th October, 2008 – North Queensland Tablelands cluster - Coordinator: Roger Jaensch (Wetlands International). Additional Observers: Kenneth McMahon, Tony Salisbury, Joy Tucker and Paul Hesling.

We have visited five discrete lakes north and west of Charters Towers. Several are around the Great Basalt Wall, an amazing complex of ancient lava flows supporting vine scrubs and spring-fed wetlands. Thanks to a reasonable wet season and some winter top-up rain, the lakes still held plenty of water (100-300 hectares each). The shallow lake edges, varying from bare mud to grass-sedge, water lily and submerged communities, provided food and shelter for 52 waterbird species. Although Grey Teal contributed over 40% of the 22,000 waterbirds counted, Magpie Geese, Hardhead, Wood Duck, coots and stilts also contributed at least a thousand. Of greatest significance was the tally of 300 Cotton Pygmy-geese, a sub-species restricted to Queensland and among our least abundant waterbirds. Also of interest were over 100 Great Crested Grebes and six species of migratory shorebird. These wetlands are in quite good condition and landholders have successfully controlled thorny woody weeds in certain lakes using an unexpected ally – camels!


National Waterbird Survey
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